Council strike ballot: more jobs cuts feared

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THOUSANDS of Doncaster Council workers will be balloted on strike action over cuts at the authority.

Unison, the largest trade in Doncaster Council, with almost 5,000 members, has written to the authority’s chief executive Rob Vincent notifying him of the plan.

The union says it is a response to cuts to services, jobs and workers’ conditions.

The action is being taken following the loss of over 700 jobs from the council since Christmas. The union says he believes there is also the threat of over 500 further job losses during the coming year, and claims the job losses and further cuts will impact massively on the most vulnerable people and communities in Doncaster.

Cuts made so far have included the loss of the warden service for elderly residents.

The union is also concerned about feared cuts to libraries, home care services and child care units.

A statement from Unison said: “Despite assurances that schools and Children’s Services would be protected, Unison has already seen the true cost of budget cuts in these essential areas: the proposed closure of Cantley Sycamore Primary School, redundancies of frontline staff working with the most vulnerable children, and hugely increased pressure on those who remain.”

Jim Board, Doncaster Unison branch secretary, said: “Enough is enough. Doncaster Council’s threat of further redundancies and attacks on the pay and conditions of thousands of mainly low-paid women workers will have a devastating effect on the frontline services our communities rely on.

“The last thing our members need is to be forced to bear the brunt of government cuts in job losses and pay cuts to pay for the mess created by the banks.

“Just as important, though, is that the last thing Doncaster needs is to see thousands of public sector workers forced from their jobs onto the dole - every one a taxpayer, a home-owner, a parent and a contributor to the local economy.”

Any strike arising from the ballot may take place at around the same time as proposed action by up to a million other public sector workers including teachers and civil servants over pensions.

Rob Vincent, chief executive of Doncaster Council, said: “We are aware of Unison’s plans to ballot members on potential strike action.

“The council is faced with making £71 million worth of savings and it is inevitable some of the cuts will affect both staff and residents directly.

“We have been, and continue to look at, which areas we can make the necessary savings and as part of this we are considering a broad list of possible areas where we could make some changes to our terms and conditions of employment.

“It is right that we consider making changes and modernising our terms and conditions as it may be a way of avoiding some compulsory redundancies.

“Our employees know we are in a difficult position and some have already shown support to take a smaller personal cut to try preserve their job and the jobs of their colleagues.

“No decision has been taken on this issue and we will carry out formal consultation with employees and trade unions before any decision is made.”